A few months ago, on a snowy Minnesota morning, I met a new friend for coffee. We lazily meandered through the list of topics one is required to discuss when meeting a potential friend, and eventually made our way round to one particular common denominator: podcasts. She was, as it turns out, just as enthralled by these gems of audio entertainment as I am (if not more!!) and we went back and forth, back and forth, exchanging thoughts on our favorite morsels from recent episodes.
I listen to a lot of podcasts. Part of this is because I enjoy entertainment and part of it is because I live alone and can't listen to Bon Iver in, like, every spare moment. If you yourself haven't taken to the world of podcasts yet or if you're simply looking for a few new shows to add to your mix, please, allow me to provide a few hot recs. I have split podcasts into categories for your browsing enjoyment. Yes, some of them do overlap—I am going to need you to overlook that, because nuance and such. K thanks.
THE ONES THAT WEAVE A DAMN GOOD STORY
Extraordinarily empathetic host Jonathan Goldstein tells narratives so thoughtful you can't help but keep listening. He goes back in time and tries to solve what wasn't solved, to tie the proverbial bow on stories that had been left untied. He does it all with a signature curiosity and a self-deprecating, highly amusing bent that you can't help but love. My favorite episode is "Jesse". Start there.
This American Life
This American Life is the quintessential podcast; a reliable, steady ship led at the helm by one Ira Glass. Each week Ira & Co. tell stories that make you think, make you experience empathy, make you understand a life and a point of view different from your own. Unlike other shows that will unceremoniously end their season for a godforsaken amount of months JUST WHEN THINGS WERE GETTING GOOD, This American Life will not. You can count on it. It will be there for you. Like sweet, sweet ice cream on a warm summer's day, it won't let you down. Favorite episodes of late include "Ask A Grown-Up" and "Rom-Com".
PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman are two technologically adept, funny, extremely-well-versed-in-the-language-of-twitter guys I want to be friends with. Each episode of their enthralling pod, Reply All, brings you tales of living life in this modern, highly connected, extremely plugged in world of ours. It's thoughtful, it's funny, it's smart, it makes you feel like part of a cool lil internet club? And it is not without merit that this episode was the one that introduced me to the twitter account We Rate Dogs so, I mean, I'm essentially indebted to them forever.
THE ONES THAT BRING ON ALL THE FEELS
Crazy; In Bed
I—not unlike an explorer on a long, physically and mentally draining journey—discovered this podcast one week ago, and have since listened to each and every episode (some of them twice!!). This true gift of a show features good, kind, hilarious people Alyssa Limperis and May Wilkerson as they interview friends / fellow entertainers and talk about their adventures + misadventures in the realm of mental health. Favorite eps include the one with Leandra Medine, the one with Ariel Dumas, and "Crying on Both Coasts", mainly because it included a riff about flying that made me laugh so hard I could barely breathe (cool).
Terrible, Thanks for Asking
Terrible, Thanks for Asking is a wonderfully compassionate podcast hosted by wonderfully compassionate human Nora McInerny. The title of the show stems from the innocent yet superficial question we're all asked so many times every day—"How are you?"—when the person asking isn't looking for anything more than a one word answer and the person responding has no intention of giving one. The title stems from Nora's belief that we should cut the bullshit and remove the pretense and get real with each other. Episodes I keep going back to include "The Middle Place", "Best Friends Forever", and "Perfectly".
The Hilarious World of Depression
The Hilarious World of Depression helps bring light and levity to the topic of mental illness, something that so many people (myself included) live with but don't talk about. In his interviews with comedians and other public figures who have dealt with depression, anxiety, and the like, host John Moe brings attention to a topic that is far too often swept under the rug. He assures listeners that they're not alone; he assures them that it's not their fault. An episode that particularly resonated with me was the one with Linda Holmes, but please not that this rec is highly subjective so maybe just listen to them all?
This podcast is hosted by one Oprah Winfrey and includes interviews with thought and spiritual leaders (don't tune out just yet!) who touch on topics such as presence, wellness, and I don't know, the meaning of life (??)—all of the woo-woo stuff you either love or you don't. A favorite episode is the interview with Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith—I can't quite explain why, but it just hits me deep in my heart or something, you know? Another fav is the interview with Nate Berkus, parts one and two.
THE ONES THAT HELP YOU RETAIN YOUR SANITY IN THE POLITICAL NIGHTMARE THAT IS 2018
Pod Save America
Pod Save America saved me when I needed it most. That sounds melodramatic but have a gander at my twitter feed circa 2016 and you will understand this is not hyperbole. The team behind the show is comprised of former Obama speechwriters and policy advisers who consider their podcast a no-bullshit conversation about politics. Start with the most recent episode and, if you're feeling like a hit of nostalgia, go back and listen to episode 4, "Obama's Last Interview".
Every weekday morning that I am able to stomach the current state of our country and occasional triggering audio clips of Trump's voice, I get out of bed and press play on The Daily. Each episode is 20 - 30 minutes of wonderful, empathetic storytelling. These two episodes—part one, part two—about civilian casualties from American-led airstrikes in Iraq, as well as these two episodes—part one, part two—about Venezuelan opposition leader Leopaldo Lopez's refusal to stay silent, were a few that moved me most. Today's ep is also a good place to begin.
THE ONES THAT MAKE YOU LAUGH
2 Dope Queens
Allow me to introduce you to Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson. Jess and Phoebs is what I call them because we are friends. J & P kick off each episode with friendly banter about their lives and then bring on a delightful mix of comedians and sometimes #famous #celebrities, too! There was one episode in which comedian Iliza Shlesinger made me laugh until I cried while flossing my teeth before bed. Crying seems to be a theme in my podcast listening. It's fine! You should try it sometime.
Lovett or Leave It
Jon Lovett, host of Lovett or Leave It (do you get it?) is my favorite person. He makes me lol. He brings me great joy. His show features a rotating panel of insightful, witty folks who share their thoughts on the latest political scandals and crises from the week prior. It also includes multiple games and subsequent Parachute gift card giveaways, the excitement of which have sunk so deep into my psyche that I have included a link to the goddamn Parachute website. The best episode is the most recent episode; this opinion is evergreen, which feels nice.
Another in Crooked Media's lineup of impressive podcasts, Keep It host Ira Madison III, plus co-hosts Kara Brown and Louis Virtel, bring listeners thoughtful, often hilarious conversations about pop culture and politics in the United States of America. Whatever you have seen on the trash receptacle that is your twitter feed in the past week will be discussed in great and worthwhile depth by these true savants of social criticism. As with LoLI, the best place to start is wherever they left off. Go forth and listen.
Fin! For now. I have approximately 18 other podcast recommendations all lined up and waiting for someone to ask for them; if that someone is YOU, you can, like, text me or something. (I have unlimited messaging, which is pretty neat.) While you're at it, please also feel free to send me YOUR hot podcast recs, which I will gladly accept with an open mind, body, and soul.